Octavio Paz was born on March 31, 1914, in Mexico City. His mother, Josephina Lozano, was of Spanish extraction, while the family of his father, Octavio, was both Mexican and Indian. Paz was a precocious youngster, influenced by his politically active grandfather, a journalist and writer, whose twelve-thousand-volume library provided the necessary material for his intellectual development. Paz’s father was a lawyer who joined Emiliano Zapata during the 1910 Mexican Revolution and represented him in America. After secondary school, Paz studied from 1932 to 1937 at the National University of Mexico. In 1931, he founded Barandal, the first of his many journals. He also began to publish his poetry, and in 1933, Luna silvestre, his first collection, appeared; in the same year, he also founded his second journal, Cuadernos del valle de Mexico. In 1937, Paz attended a conference in Spain; after the conference, he decided to remain there for a year. His allegiance was, naturally, to the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War. In 1938, he passed through Paris, where he met Alejo Carpentier and Robert Desnos; Paz’s firsthand encounter with the Surrealists was particularly decisive, and their profound influence on his subsequent work cannot be overestimated.
In 1938, Paz returned to Mexico, where he worked with Spanish political refugees, wrote on political matters for El popular, and founded Taller. A fourth...
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